On the Road: Episode 1 - The Griots of West Africa
On the Road: Episode 1 - The Griots of West Africa
Category: Documentaries


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A griot (gree-oh) is the keeper of the West African oral tradition and the tribe's genealogy through poetic songs. Bob Holman is invited to Gambia by his long-time friend and teacher, Papa Susso, to learn more about this musical art and see how the kora, the 21-string harp-lute is made. Bob travels up the Niger River with Papa's son, Karamo, also a griot, in search of the spirit of the African-American Beat poet, Ted Joans, who lived a buoyant life in Timbuktu in the 70s and was Bob's mentor. Along the way, Bob discovers the roots of hip-hop, rap, the blues -- all the great American musical traditions that originated in Africa. The episode concludes with a kora-guitar jam session between Karamo and Ali Farka Toure's son, Vieux.


On the Road: Episode 1 - The Griots of West Africa

On the Road: Episode 2 - From Timbuktu to the Dogons

On the Road: Episode 3 - Israel and the West Bank


Visit the series' website at Rattapallax
Follow Bob Holman on his future adventures

Watch a live performance by griots from Guinea, Mali and Burkina Fasso at the 2011 New York Griot Summit at Wave Hill (World Music blog post by Michal Shapiro.)


About On the Road

What happens when a downtown New York poet of the hip hop and slam persuasion discovers that the roots of spoken word go back thousands of years and span the globe? If he's Bob Holman, he goes On the Road to track them down! He trades stories, fun, recipes, insights, jokes, songs, and poems. Along the way, he gets passionately immersed in the Endangered Language crisis -- over half the world's 6500 languages will disappear before the end of this century. Holman guides us to the bottom-line question of survival of these systems of consciousness with respect, joy, and dedication to diversity. He throws himself into the life -- shares the meals, participates in the ceremonies, dances and parties. His enthusiasm infects the series' fast-paced style.


Produced by Ram Devineni and Beatriz Seigner. Hosted by Bob Holman.


On the Road: Episode 1 - The Griots of West Africa
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